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To Fear The Men In Black

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There was a black helicopter hovering near my house recently. It was probably the lowest I've ever seen a helicopter, it looked like it was going to land on the house or something, but instead it flew off. The neighborhood people nearby walked out on their porches and gazed on at the spectacle. It wasn't an ordinary occurrence, especially out here.

I'm sure the helicopter was just doing some kind of drill or practice. Tons of people see helicopters circling there houses and it just turns out to be kind of ordinary training that they are doing or whatever. Still, in the back of my mind, I did think about the possibility of it being The Men In Black from UFO folklore. Its obviously a ridiculous thought that comes from reading too many Mothman and UFO sightings. After reading some of these strange sightings, every small noise in my house or knock on the door becomes The Men In Black.

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John Keel can attest that learning about The Men In Black will make you never want to wear a black suit ever again. When they first unveiled Bob Roach's Mothman Statue at the festival, Keel showed up in a full white suit. So I've been thinking, what is it about The Men In Black that makes them so terrifying? How is it that tales of MIB encounters can actually still scare me? What does mean to fear The Men In Black?

Fearing The Mothman

There was once a time when I was afraid of The Mothman before I reasoned myself out of that fear. I guess the initial fear of the unknown wore off as I learned more about the creature, I became more conformable with the idea. At this point I think I might even considered Mothman like a superhero because he warns us of disasters.

I understand why some would be frightened by The Mothman and its not just his striking physical appearance. There is more to why some people are afraid of The Mothman than a simple fear of the unknown.

As mammals we have a biologically driven fear of looming predators in the sky that can swoop down and grab us. The idea of The Mothman perfectly embodies those primal fears which could be why similar Legends have been told throughout history such as the Native American "Thunderbird" myth.

Another aspect of the Mothman is that he is seen as an omen of a disaster yet to come. This kind of omen or warning is also common in story telling, it feeds into hysteria and the fear that a terrible and unpreventable event will happen without warning, reason or explanation.

I'd like to think that if the Mothman existed and I saw him, I wouldn't be scared and instead would try to communicate with him or take a photo but who knows, maybe I'd just run away like everyone else and maybe that'd be the appropriate response. The point is that I'm not afraid of the mere concept of The Mothman anymore as I've grown obsessed with it but I am still sort of afraid of The Men In Black.

The Men In Black Movies

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Those unfamiliar with the MIB from UFO folklore might be confused by my statements. If you only know Mothman from the horror movies and The Men In Black from the comedy movies then maybe you'll feel the opposite way that I do. If your not afraid of The Men In Black, maybe you should be because they are clearly the bad guys.

Even when I first watched the MIB Movie, I thought it was messed up that they erased people's memory just for seeing something strange. I found it unfair and I still don't fully comprehend how anyone could see that as a good or moral thing. I don't like this idea of "Protecting people from the truth", I'd rather just know the truth however horrible it may be.

In the fictional world of that movie where aliens have invaded, why wouldn't the MIB allow the public to know this and help out in some way? Maybe the solution to the problem is in the mind of an obscure citizen living somewhere in the farmland of america? Why not allow the minds of the public to figure it out as well?

As citizens of earth wouldn't they have a right to know about something so important and global? Is mass-hysteria in that fictional world such a big problem that the MIB would be willing to hide reality? People get hysterical over much less and no one cares so why would they care in this instance? I think its completely unnecessary and immoral to erase someone's memory, you can come to the conclusion that The Men In Black are the bad guys even within the context of that movie.

UFO Folklore

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In the context of the folklore however, Its clear and out in the open that The Men In Black are bad guys. That's how its been from the start before the the comic, the movie and the animated series painted them in a more positive light.

The Men In Black in UFO folklore are basically set up to be the antagonist of the UFO researchers. The researchers are supposed to be the ones that are trying to figure out whats going on and The Men In Black are supposed to be the ones that are keeping it hidden. The Men In Black are "UFO-silencers", they threaten and harass witnesses of strange things and tell them not to talk about them or report them.

Back in 40's, 50's and 60's UFOlogy and Science-fiction was big. People had dreams for the future of technology and space travel, ideas like "The Car of Tomorrow", "The House of Tomorrow" and then of course we went to the moon in 1969.

The US air force actually invented the term "UFO" as a catch all for miscellaneous reports. The "Unidentified Flying Object" category was for objects that didn't match known aircraft or missile types. They were concerned with national security so I'm sure they were pretty annoyed when people began reporting strange lights, crafts and flying saucers in the sky that the witnesses attributed to extraterrestrials or other strange ideas.

After UFOlogists spent years researching these strange shapes in the sky, they came to various conclusions and had many different perspectives and ideas about what these objects could be. Witnesses described strange crafts and sometimes strange creatures such as in the cases The Flatwoods Monster in West Virginia 1952, The Kelly-Hopkins Goblins in Kentucky 1955, Indrid Cold in West Virginia 1966 and of course Mothman in West Virginia 1966.

I think in most cases the witnesses actually see these strange things even though what they saw is most likely not real. These creatures entered the folklore because real people saw these fictional beings. Folklore is like a fictional dramatic play acting itself out on the stage of reality. Its a novel written on their perception, an art painted on their sight.

I think that's where the idea The Men In Black also came from, people actually saw men in dressed in black that maybe tried to silence them or said something they interpreted to be a vague threat. Its yet another case of reality distortion that can happen to anyone.

Here Come The Men In Black

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The UFO lore, like all folklore, builds upon itself through various hands. A lot of information was exchanged orally or through research notes, reports, articles and documents. In 1956, a controversial figure, Gray Barker from West Virginia, released his book "They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers" which was the first book about these strange men in black suits.

It makes sense that the UFO field would fear The Men In Black. Those who seek nurture from flying ships tend to be disenfranchised with humans. They're alienated. Pun intended. They have a need for escape, distaste for humans, it would make sense for normal people in suits to be their bad guys.

Once the MIB entered the folklore, the stage was set. The UFO researchers had their villains to fight against. The Men In Black became the boogeymen of UFO field and anyone driving a black Cadillac or wearing a black suit for whatever reason could be one of them.

It could all just be reality distortion, over-worked and exhausted UFO researchers racking their brains trying to make sense of it all, falling down the rabbit hole, feeling like everyone is against them and trying to stop the truth from being known. Any document or reports that disappeared into the messy stacks of paper cluttering their entire office could be thought of as possibly stolen by The Men In Black.

The MIB also reportedly harassed Point Pleasant Reporter Mary Hyre, blocked Mothman Witness Faye Dewitt Leport and her brother from entering The TNT Area, tried to pull Mothman Witness Connie Carpenter into their car and left her a threatening note.

John Keel was the one to really popularize The Men In Black in his writings and lectures. He coined the acronym MIB which is still used often in the UFO field. John Keel claimed that the Men In Black drove black Cadillac until he started writing about them driving these cars and at that point they switched to Volkswagen. Keel would attempt to chase down these strangers. They were a significant part of his Mothman investigations in Point Pleasant.

So, if The Men In Black were truly just reality distortion, then whats to fear? The thing is that we don't know that for certain, its just the most likely explanation. Its the "What If" that gets ya. What if The Men In Black actually are real and for whatever reason they don't want us to talk about UFOs or Mothman?

If you've never cared about these topics before then maybe you feel you have nothing to worry about and that this is only a fear for fans of UFO but the thought of their being mysterious strangers who are out to get you or silence you for any reason is a chilling thought. A faceless and nameless group working against you. The Men In Black are ultimate generic bad guy.

They are the personification of censorship. All anyone has to do is wear a black suit and threaten you into silence and they're the MIB. Even if people were posing as the MIB and threatening witnesses, how is that any better? That's still terrifying. Maybe you can get over the fear of somewhat absurd creatures but The Men In Black are more of a practical and logical fear.

The questions we ask ourselves now is: Were any of these sightings of MIB legitimate? and if so, Why would anyone want to silence people from talking about UFOs or The Mothman? and If The Men In Black were only in UFO folklore then why were witnesses who had nothing to do with the UFO field reporting to see them?

My Phantom Photographer Encounter?

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John Keel thought of the Men In Black as a generic term, not always meaning literally men in literal black suits. He mentioned other MIB types such as strange men disguised as military officers, meter readers, and photographers. This really widens the possibilities as to who could be an MIB. At this point they literally are just any form of fraud, deception or censorship. They are the adversary, the one who stands in the way, a common story telling theme.

I once had what some might consider to be a run-in with "The Phantom Photographers" which are a type of Men In Black that John Keel talked in his lectures and also wrote about In The Mothman Prophecies. 

So what is a Phantom Photographers? They are said to be strangers who would drive up and take pictures of houses after the owner had been witness to something strange. They'd pull up in black Cadillac, take out a big tripod and heavy camera, set it on the tripod, snap a picture of the house then put it all back in the car and drive away without going up to the door or offering to sell the pictures. I think this description is similar to what I experienced.

I had not really witnessed anything strange prior to the encounter that would lead to a visit from The Men In Black but at the time I was first working on The Mothman Wiki and passing around flyers about it at school. There is clearly a reasonable explanation for it all but it does highlight the possible mindset of investigators and the maybe how fear could lead to the creation of some of these stories so I'll share the experience here, even though I don't think there is really anything to it.

I was still in school at the time. It was Wednesday May 4th 2016, I was sitting in the office having lunch as I normally did to get away from the noise and annoyance of the crowd. In the office was the secretary and a police officer known as a "resource officer" that most schools have nowadays. The front office walls were made of clear panels and through them I could see the entrance which was a set of clear doors. Guarding these doors was an ordinary teacher on lunch duty to stand there and let people in.

At around 11, I saw a man outside in a blue polo shirt with thin white stripes, tan pants and white sneakers taking pictures of the front of the school with a camera. He had short buzzed black hair, Caucasian skin and he looked very average.

He didn't look like a reporter or newsman of any kind because he dressed like a civilian and the camera was a simple black handheld with a strap, not large expensive or complex enough to be a news camera. From my time in the front office I'd seen news people and they usually carried around large cameras with tripods and had logos of the new station on them. They would always walk to the front desk and asked to speak to someone about filming.

This unknown man snapped pictures, not video. He took pictures of the front of the school then walked over to the window sneakily using a bush for cover. He took pictures through the large windows that had a straight shot to me sitting in the office. If I'm not mistaken of his aim, then I am undoubtedly in one of those pictures.

The lady at the front desk, startled by this man asked "Is that man taking pictures?!". The man walked off and the secretary sent out the school resource officer to investigate. The officer walked out of view as he went outside after the man. The secretary then looked out toward the teacher guarding the door and pantomimed a camera snapping through the glass. She mouthed "Was he taking pictures?" and the teacher watching the door nodded yes. That's four witnesses, me, the office lady, the resource officer and the teacher at the door. This photographer was obviously a real person and not just my imagination.

I never found out what happened next. The bell rang and I went to class. I looked out all the windows on my way back upstairs and didn't see the man or the police officer again. I hoped that the secretary or the officer would offhandedly mention it next time I was down there for lunch but I never saw that exact resource officer again before I graduated. I could have probably asked the lady at the front desk but I thought that'd be weird, too specific, unimportant and nosey.

Maybe he was just a weirdo or maybe that guy somehow worked for the school in some way and they didn't know at first. Maybe he was taking pictures for some other reason like the newspaper.

For all I know, The officer stopped him, asked him what was going on and he gave a logical explanation. Maybe he just got away completely and not even the officer or the secretary know his motives. Its clearly just my mind doing some pattern-seeking and making mountains out of molehills but its the closest thing to an MIB sighting that I've experienced and it highlights the element of fear and what it can do to the mind to transform possibly oridnary experiences into the paranormal.

Fear As Entertainment

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Why is it that we continue to read stories that frighten us? Should those who are afraid of The Men In Black just stop reading of people's encounters with these strangers? I think now that mankind has separated itself from the food chain of nature, we need to tell stories to get that sense of fear. There is a reason we watch horror movies and tell scary stories in the dark; We love to be scared. Fear is a form of entertainment for us now.

I grew up watching Horror movies, in fact some they were some of the first movies I ever watched. I didn't really watch movies at first, I went to the theater a few times but I didn't like how loud it was, the crowd of people or having to leave the house. I was introduced to movies through VHS, DVD and TV Marathons.

I like Halloween, Child's Play, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Friday The 13th, Scream, Children of The Corn, ect. I love the collectibility of them. The never ending sequels and remakes that trailed on forever, perfect for marathoning, comparing and contrasting. I'd buy all the DVDs, blu-rays and putting them on my shelf chronologically, trying to memorize the titles and the orders they go in. They still remain some of my favorite movies, they never really scared me even when I watched them as a kid and It wasn't until much later that I realized they were even supposed to be scary. 

I'd always sort of seen them as action movies with awesome monsters that took out the bland and boring nobody characters. I considered the monsters to be the main character, they're the focal point, the interesting part, the person wearing the cool costume or the person who was visually odd.

I thought they surely must be the main character because they were the only one to return in the sequel, all the other characters were not important and they existed just to be taken out as canon fodder for the story. The were a few exceptions like Laurie in Halloween or Andy in Child's play, they were secondary main characters but eventually even they went away. The Monster was the fun part, the image on the cover of the box and the mask to buy on Halloween for trick or treating. For anyone who wants to know the secret to not be afraid of horror movies, the answer is to root for the villain.

That's precisely what they tried to do with The Men In Black movies, they turned it into a comedy action film, they tried to make you root for the bad guys but for me and many others, It didn't work. I think maybe its that I value ideas more than people. I think that ideas and perspectives are what give humans value and that's why the boring useless characters in those horror movies meant nothing, they had no interesting ideas.

UFO witnesses and people who've see strange things on the other hand, they have interesting ideas, perspectives and things to say but the MIB are blocking that, censoring that and that's the worst evil of all. That is something so evil that I can't even root for it in a fictionalized narrative. They're destroying ideas and thats why we fear them. In the movie V for Vendetta, the main character, V, says something along the lines of "Beneath this mask is an idea and ideas are bulletproof". The only ones able to kill an idea are the ones who silence that idea from being heard. The ones able to kill an idea are The Men In Black and that's truly something to fear.

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